Sunday, August 12, 2018

Not Mars, but Comet 21P/Giacobini-Zinner!

After battling clouds all Thursday night trying to get some good lucky imaging video captures, I was ready to call it quits shortly after midnight.

I managed to get some good data for Mars, but I was tired and frustrated.

And then a miracle occurred.

The clouds cleared.

It was now a dark, moonless, and cloudless sky.  The Milky Way was bright and overhead in my Bortle Class 4 sky.

More coffee became involved.

I took advantage of that moment of glorious nighttime beauty and took a peek at Comet 21P/Giacobini-Zinner.  It was near the constellation Cassiopeia.

It was big and bright in my 10" Dob.

I put the camera on and took this image.  It is a single frame.  No stacking.  No magic.

It's an easy to see comet!
Comet 21P/Giacobini-Zinner, August 10th 2018 at 0600 UTC
After capturing this single frame, I let SharpCap capture a couple of minutes of frames and stack them.

This is the resultant image.  It's really exciting!
Comet 21P/Giacobini-Zinner, 66 frames at 2 seconds per exposure
What makes this image so exciting is that the telescope is tracking the stars.  Their paths are well known and predictable.  The comet has its own path and consequently its light, being captured and stacked by SharpCap, makes a line.

This line is apparent after only a couple of minutes of frame captures.

Next week?  More images, clouds willing!


  1. Oh I love the stacked comet image, how you can see that it has moved independently of the stars. Way cool!

    1. I'd like to figure out how to track the comet and have the star trails. And stacking the comet light in this case would probably reveal its tail!

  2. Replies
    1. There is some speculation that this comet will be a naked (dim) eye object in a few weeks.


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